A common misperception exists that women do not have bleeding disorders. However, we now know this is far from true.
Von Willebrand disease, the most common bleeding disorder, affects both males and females in equal numbers. Carriers of hemophilia with low factor levels often suffer from problem bleeding. They have been called symptomatic carriers and may be said to have mild hemophilia. Women and girls may also have factor I, II, V, VII, X, XI, XIII deficiencies and platelet disorders.
Because of the myth that women do not have bleeding disorders, their condition often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This can cause serious consequences for women. Unfortunately it has led to some women suffering with debilitating menstrual bleeding every month without treatment. It has also resulted in unnecessary hysterectomies, life-threatening complications during childbirth, surgery, and after injury and accidents. Because von Willebrand disease is so common, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a recommendation that every adolescent girl with severe menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) be screened for von Willebrand disease. They have also recommended VWD screening for any adult woman with significant menorrhagia without another cause, and prior to any hysterectomy for excessive menstrual bleeding.
“Victory for Women”, an initiative of the National Hemophilia Foundation, seeks to educate health care providers about women and bleeding disorders and build awareness among women and girls themselves. Informational pamphlets, reference lists, research results and other excellent materials are available through the NHF.